Saturday is the final home game of the regular season for Penn State and senior day festivities will be taking place at Beaver Stadium. However, this is not an ordinary senior day at University Park.
Nittany Lions supporters will not only be honoring those who will take the field at home one final time but saying goodbye to an era of Penn State football as well.
These seniors are the last players on Penn State’s roster who committed when the NCAA sanctions were active against the program. The harsh sanctions handed down by the NCAA as a result of the investigation of the actions related to former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky left the Penn State football program quite vulnerable with multiple seasons of postseason ineligibility and reduced scholarships.
Still, these individuals stuck with the Nittany Lions and trusted in coach James Franklin’s project. Several players have also had pivotal roles both on the field and as leaders in the rebuilding process.
Koa Farmer traveled a very long way from his original home of sunny California. It always seemed against the odds for Penn State to land the linebacker, especially when he already had previously committed to Cal, another power five school much closer to home. However, Franklin managed to win over Farmer, just as Farmer won over Penn State fans across his five-year stint.
Farmer contributed with big plays on both defense and special teams. One of his most notable moments will always be the 59-yard return off a short kickoff against Ohio State last season. Farmer furthered his versatility by switching from a strongside linebacker to a weak side linebacker in 2018.
This season, Farmer has been a huge mentor to the up-and-coming freshman Micah Parsons. Although he has seen Parsons take more and more of his snaps as the season has progressed, Farmer has remained humble and encouraging to his teammates. As he closes the book on his Penn State career trying to reestablish the nickname “Linebacker U” in State College.
Does a player of his quality even require explanation? Trace McSorley has been the epitome of the Penn State program under James Franklin, a metaphorical “sleeping giant.”
In the beginning of his career, McSorley observed the various struggles of the Penn State offense from the sideline. However, once he was given his time to shine, the quarterback spearheaded big changes in what became one of the most dynamic offenses in all of college football.
As Penn State continued to work its way into the national spotlight, so did McSorley. His energy, passion and leadership, along with his size made him a media magnet and a fantastic poster boy for an emerging underdog on the national stage.
Though McSorley has fallen off in the later half of his final season while battling injuries along the way. He has continued to shatter school records week by week, solidifying his spot amongst the best quarterbacks in school history.
Other than giving Beaver Stadium PA announcer Dean DeVore and play by play broadcaster Steve Jones headaches with such a challenging last name, Amani Oruwariye has been a mainstay in the Nittany Lion secondary through the years.
The corner has come up with huge plays, such as the game-winning interception against Appalachian State earlier this season. He has also been another great body of leadership who has acted as a role model despite this season’s struggles, in hope of breeding more success for the next generation.
There are other names not mentioned, such as safety Nick Scott, who filled the shoes of defensive leader Marcus Allen this season, along with Johnathan Thomas and Mark Allen, who provided running back and special teams depth through the years.
Regardless, all these seniors have played a pivotal role in the recovery and rebuilding of Penn State football, as they prepare to dawn their black shoes and basic blues one final time at home.
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